"A drug addict can only be helped if he/she wants to be helped." - is a common advice/statement.

Have there been any studies/research which either confirms or rejects this statement?

Looking at for example: drug addicts that became clean / failed to become clean when under forced treatment, compared to drug addicts that became clean / failed when undertaking a voluntary treatment.

  • 1
    Would you consider sources that do not specifically mention 'drug addition' but any addiction in general?
    – Colin D
    Nov 29, 2012 at 19:15

1 Answer 1


Have there been any studies/research which either confirms or rejects this statement?

Apparently yes.

The Effectiveness of Coerced Treatment for Drug-Abusing Offenders - Federal Probation, June 1998 (direct PDF download)

In general, our review of 11 empirical studies of compulsory substance abuse treatment supports the use of the criminal justice system as an effective source of treatment referral

Effectiveness of coerced addiction treatment (alternative consequences) A review of the clinical research Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, June 1999.

The preponderance of the research literature confirmed efficacy and cost benefits from coerced addiction treatment

  • so, the conclusion based on these two studies is that the adage is false?
    – Kip
    Dec 5, 2012 at 21:11
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    @Kip: It depends on who "You" is in the adage. If you are a friend or relative of the addict, depending on the legal jurisdiction in which you live, you probably don't have the legal right to physically coerce an adult drug addict and attempts at reasoned persuasion may fail (adage true). If you are an agent of the judicial/penal system, it seems the legal process can permit physical coercion with some positive degree of effectiveness (adage false). Dec 5, 2012 at 21:30

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